Thursday, 2 March 2017

PWC, the Oscar stars!

Martha L Ruiz and Brian Culinan became the most known, non-celebrity faces at the Oscars this year. As auditors, this is probably the 5 minutes of fame they wish they'd never had. The Pricewatercoopers accountants are probably experiencing that 'may the earth rip open and swallow me' moment.

Everyone had something to talk about on a dull winter Monday morning. For once, we here in Europe woke up to news that wasn't hogged by Donald Trump's depressingly ridiculous imbecility. Entertained instead by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway's comical expressions of the night before. How Warren fumblingly passed on a burning ball of uncertainty at the 'best movie' announcement, to Faye, rather than scorch his own fingers. How the over-eager Faye impatiently grabbed the envelope to blurt out the movie name she recognised on it (happily blanking out the rest), only to realise later how badly her fingers were scorched. Warren himself got off 'scot-free', sheepishly taking the mike back grinningly at a shock-faced, applauding audience. True to the spirit of Hollywood, the applauding remained stable through the entire fiasco! Only later did we learn, that the whole goof-up was attributed to two selfie-taking distracted PWC auditors who's responsibility was handing over the right envelopes to the right people at the right time. 

The infallible PWC who had previously boasted that their 83 year old contract had never come up for tender because they do such a 'good job', was also capable of human error. Precisely because, surprise surprise, even companies as big as PWC are comprised of mere mortals. So even fat pay-cheque drawing Partners at PWC aren't exempt of human error.
And let's put things into perspective, what were the real consequences of the blunder? Did Jordan Horowitz go home with the wrong award? No, the goof-up was corrected immediately, amidst a lot of awkwardness. Did it surface a systemic rot at the core of PWC competencies like with the Volkswagen crisis? No, it was a localised human moment of inattentiveness. Was anyone hurt, did a bad drug have to be recalled? Did anyone die, like in the recent Yemen attack that went 'dreadfully wrong' killing 25 people amongst which 9 were children under the age of 13, one a 3 moth old baby and a US soldier. 
This was a show-biz, black-tie event of some brilliant entertainers thrown into an off-the-script scene of embarrassing awkwardness which gave everyone something hilarious to talk about at work, and more fodder for the ever hungry Trump-inspired political satire. 

There is talk of how many heads will roll, how PWC will salvage face. Will PWC be able to claw it's way out of this crisis? The Oscars have barred Martha and Brian from future ceremonies. Crucial work of repairing the cracks that led to this mammoth mistake are being mended. 
I think it's also a huge opportunity for PWC to rise above all the melodrama and parade its humanity. To laugh at itself and it's Oscar winning blunder. To hold back on rushing to internal decapitations. To acknowledge the damage sloppy carelessness can cause. And forgive. Forgive and appreciate being able to quickly and confidently eliminate a deep-rooted, festering flaw in the company. For a blunder is what it is. Nothing more and nothing less.

Wouldn't that come as a pleasant, unexpected surprise? It's a rare ability, in business, for a company to use the opportunity of a crisis, into a showcase and proof of it's empathetic human side.

Be the star of the extended Oscar's, PWC!

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